Biological parents have the right to child visitation even if they weren’t married when the child was born. However, fathers must first legally establish paternity in order to attain father’s rights. Unless there is evidence indicating that visitation is not in the child’s best interest, such as domestic violence and drugs, the courts presume that involvement of both parents is of benefit to the child.
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Establishing paternity takes two steps. The parents must sign and file acknowledgement of paternity with the court. The process also entails DNA testing to prove the father is the biological father. The results of the testing typically take four to six week after samples have been taken from all parties. Once it is confirmed that the father is the biological dad, both child visitation and other child custody rights may be pursued. Often parents negotiate a child visitation agreement, also known as a parenting plan. This agreement includes parent visitation periods as well as the agreed procedures for any potential changes to the parenting plan.
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Mediation is an effective way for parents to agree on a parenting plan. With the help of a neutral third party, parents can work on the details and then submit it to the court for approval. However, if there evidence that visitation might cause harm to the child and visitation is being contested, mediation may not be appropriate.
In this case, attorney Elisa Staats can help you prepare for a court trial. A pre-trial hearing may be scheduled to review types of matters like this. During discovery, she will gather documents, exhibits and witness statements for trial. The rules of evidence and discovery are complex, and it’s best to not go the process alone. The trial is held in a closed courtroom, and the judge will write up a judgment for all to sign after announcing the decision.
Keep in mind that the court has the power to establish and enforce specific visitation time between parents and a child. If you’ve been denied court-ordered parenting time, you can file a family access motion. Elisa Staats can help guide you through the process.
Elisa Staats is an experienced family law attorney who handles paternity, visitation, father rights, child custody and child support issues. Let her experience work for you. She’s committed to working in the best interest of the family.